Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

The country about Kuklia, Pysouri, Baffo, and the Maratassa valley are the parts of the island where game most abounds. Hitherto neither game or fish have been preserved in any way, and both shooting and fishing are allowed anywhere, so long as the crops are not injured. Gunpowder is, however, a government monopoly, and peasants cannot obtain it without a declaration signed before the Cadi, and other expensive formalities. Then again, the Greeks never carry guns, for a Mussulman law, strictly enforced by the local authorities, prevents Christians from bearing any other firearms but pistols, which may be worn at the girdle while travelling or after dark, as a protection against robbers. Travellers and tourists have, however, never been considered as Christians so far as this decree went. Under the new government, the establishment of a close season for game may naturally be expected. Of birds of prey, eagles, vultures, buzzards, falcons, and hawks are very common. Of reptiles and noxious insects there are asps, other snakes which are said not to be venomous, scorpions, tarantulas, and locusts. Some travellers have related startling stories regarding the dangers to be encountered from the reptiles. Gaudry mentions that he saw an ass stung by an asp, and it died in a few hours; he also says that deaths among the natives are frequent from asp bites; that asps are generally found in the standing corn, and that reapers attach little bells to their sickles to frighten the snakes away. That venomous reptiles do exist in the island can scarcely be doubted, but most of the reports as to their number and deadliness are circulated by writers who have paid a flying visit to the island, and have lent a credulous ear to the stories of timid natives, or who have really no personal knowledge whatever of the country; whilst residents who have travelled on foot and on horseback throughout Cyprus, state positively that they have never been bitten." The peasantry have a great dread of asps, and indeed of all snakes, as they consider them unlucky, and it is an almost universal practice to wear high boots as a protection; still many of their tales which have been both believed and repeated are much exaggerated. General di Cesmola mentions that the site of the ancient Curium is a favourite resort of asps, and he says that once when excavating at Mulasha, a kuft, or asp, was encountered, and the sight of it was sufficient to deter the diggers from further exploration at that spot. A large species of snake is said to be common in the northwestern part of the island, but it is harmless; the asps are described to be of middling length, great thickness, of a blackish hue and with a blunt tail. Sonnini describes a large spider, which he calls the galcode of the Levant, as existing in Cyprus, and says

Birds of prey.

Reptiles and insects.

* Dr. Clarke spent ten days in Cyprus, and gives a most melancholy account both of the climate. and of the dangers of venomous reptiles; his work has been much quoted by pessimists, but Consul Lang, who resided nine years in the island, and travelled all over it, says that he could only find specimens of asps and tarantulas after considerable search, and that he never heard of the pernicious fevers reported by Dr. Clarke, though they might possibly have existed before his arrival.

that its bite is very dangerous. JY. Clarke states that tarantulas
having black bodies covered with hair, and bright yellow eyes are
not uncommon.
By far the worst enemy amongst the animal creation, that
Cyprus has to contend with, and the most injurious to agricul-
tural prosperity, is the locust. Writers of the fifteenth centur
mention the fearful depredations of this insect at that period. %
is by some imagined that it was first blown agross the sea from the

coasts of Caramania or Syria, and by others that it may have been

introduced by ships bringing cargoes of grain, but afterwards the
eggs were deposited in the island and the locusts remained from
year to year. Although, owing to active measures of destruction,
this plague has at present almost disappeared, it may be both
useful and interesting to notice how only a few years ago, the
island was invaded by these pests. It appears that the insect is so
wonderfully prolific, that unless continual and active measures are
taken to extirpate it, it increases in the course of a few years in
such quantities as to swarm in myriads over the whole country,
but, on the other hand it is evident that with care and perseverance
its almost complete destruction may be ensured. The measures
adopted by Osman Pasha in 1855–56, were very successful, and
consequently the island enjoyed a few years of comparative
freedom from this scourge, but the precautionary measures were
subsequently neglected, and the locusts gradually increased in
numbers till in 1861, the spring crops suffered fearfully from their
ravages. In 1862, Zia Pasha, who was then governor of Cyprus,
took the matter up actively, and, through his representations, the
government was induced to grant a sum of 2,500 Turkish lire
(equivalent to about £2,270) for carrying out various plans proposed
for the destruction of the insect. At the same time a tax of
20 okes of locusts' eggs per head was imposed upon the inhabi-
tants. It was calculated that by this tax at least a million of okes
of eggs would be collected, and as each oke was found to contain
on an average 1,800 eggs, from each of which 30 locusts are pro-
duced, the number of insects thus destroyed in the egg would be
enorinous.
The numbers were, however, so great that it required some years
to work a change, and in 1864 we read that the locusts were still
very numerous, but Consul Sandwith in his report for the year
1869 was able to state that, owing to the energetic measures
adopted, the locusts had nearly disappeared, and Consul Lang,
writing in 1871, said that these measures were still being carried
on with fair success, and that the agricultural interest of the island
had then a better prospect than for a long time previously. Since
that time we hear that, thanks to recent intelligent efforts, the destruc-
tion of the insect has been accomplished, and that it now only remains
to watch and guard carefully against its return. It is worthy of
notice that the presence of locusts in the island, was always a
standing obstacle to the proper cultivation of cotton (which
might be a great source of wealth) by the delay which it necessi-

tated in the planting of the seed, for this could not be done until

the passage of the locusts across the land was over; consequently

Locusts. Cyprus for. merly wellwooded.

the plants did not ripen until late in the year, and at times the bolls did not open at all, from want of sufficient heat in the autumnal season. It is stated that now the cotton may be sown early in May, and so there is full time for the plant to come to maturity hefore the end of the summer.

Drs. Unger and Kotschy devote the whole of Chapter VIII, of their joint work upon Cyprus to an account of the ravages of locusts in the island; the German authors, Seiff and Won Löher also describe their depredations.

It appears that the young locusts are hatched about the end of March, and a fortnight later they commence hopping and creeping westward, destroying every leaf as they pass it; by the end of April their wings are fully developed, and the work of devastation commences, fields of corn are devoured to the very roots, and fruitful gardens entirely laid waste. In August, the eggs are deposited, and shortly afterwards the insects die. The spots where the eggs are laid can easily be detected by a shiny viscous matter, with which the locusts soften and cover the earth in which they are placed. Every female lays two or three eggs, and each of these produces on an average about 30 locusts, the egg being in fact an agglomeration of small eggs bound close together in a small oblong mass. A simple and very effective method of destroying locusts, was hit upon by a large land owner, M. Mattei. He observed that the insects could not ascend smooth surfaces, and that even when fully winged they were compelled to seek the earth at short intervals, and continue their progress by creeping and hopping; so he caused several rows of ditches about 24 feet deep to be dug at right angles to the line of flight, and on the further side of these, screens of linen, oilcloth, &c., were erected. The locusts on trying to scale the screens generally fell back in masses into the ditches, where they were either covered with earth, or shovelled out, thrown into sacks, and buried in other spots. Those that surmounted the first screen, were generally stopped by the second, and in no case cleared the third. This plan was the means of destruction of enormous quantities of locusts, and it was adopted all over the island; both Seiff and Won Löher testify to its merits.

Bees are kept in great numbers in many parts of the island; Dr. Clarke mentions the large number of hives which he saw at a village called Attien (probably Athienou); Won Löher notices that there were quantities on the slopes below Buffavento. It is stated, however, that there has been but little encouragement to the peasantry to keep bees, for the honey is generally demanded by the governor, so that an apiary may be considered as merely an additional tax.

WOODS AND FOREST.S.

From ancient writers we learn that when Cyprus was first colonized, the whole country was covered with forests, which were in certain places cleared by the Phoenicians for the double purposes of opening out ground for cultivation, and using the timber as fuel

for smelting copper. From historical accounts it also appears that
the ancient rulers of Cyprus, whether Greeks, Persians, Egyptians,
Romans, Arabs, or Byzantines, all gave particular care and atten-
tion to the cultivation and protection of the fine forest trees which
then contributed so materially to the prosperity of the island; con-
sequently, not only did stately pines and other trees cover the
whole of the mountain ranges, but the entire plain was also clothed
with a dense mass of forest.
The modern traveller in Cyprus would, however, have some
difficulty in realizing that this had really been the case, for except
on the Olympus range in the south-west part of the island, and on
some of the slopes of the Cerinea and Karpas mountains, the island
is now wholly denuded of forests, and so bare and treeless is the
Messaria plain at the present day, that it is by no means easy to
appreciate its former condition. Cyprus has undoubtedly in many
ways suffered much at the hands of her recent owners, but in no
particular is this fact more clearly evidenced than in the utter de-
struction of the forests.
It is said that it was during the two first centuries of the
Lusignan dynasty, the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, that
the first serious attack was made upon the luxuriance of the Cyprian
forests; at this period ship-building was carried on to an enormous
extent, and no pains were taken to replace the trees used for this
purpose.
The Venetians, who came next, were also great shipbuilders,
but had sufficient foresight to undertake a certain amount of plant-
ing; their tenure of the island was, however, comparatively short,
in 1572, Cyprus fell under Turkish rule, and then at once com-
menced the ruthless destruction which, were it continued much
longer, could only end in the conversion of the island into an arid
waste. Von Löher supplies us with details concerning the various
ways in which the improvidence and carelessness of the Turks
have caused the disappearance of the forests.
It appears that year after year the pashas, kaimakams, and agas
have increased their revenues by cutting down the trees, and leav-
ing those which they could not sell to i. appropriated by whoever
chose to take them. Every maritime disaster entailed fresh de-
mands upon the Cyprian forests; if a hundred trunks were wanted,
a thousand were felled, it being slightly easier to select the finest
trees when lying on the ground than when upright, the best were
then taken away, and the remainder left to rot where they lay.
The forests were under no protection from government, and the
poorer classes have derived a considerable portion of their livelihood
from the sale of the trees, which they cut down when they please;
near every village, or inhabited spot, the spoliation of the surround-
ing timber is evident; the small trees have all been cut down at
the roots, whilst the larger ones which would entail some labour to
fell, have had all their branches and bark hacked off. During the
temporary occupation of the island by Egypt under Mehemet Ali,
1832–1840, the work of destruction continued with, if possible, in-
creased activity, shipments of timber to Egypt being permitted and
encouraged. But, in addition to all this, a very large proportion of

Destruction of the forests.

the forests have been destroyed simply though either carelessness
or wanton mischief. Fires in the woods are of very frequent
occurrence, they are generally kindled by the wandering shepherds
or their families, who make not the slightest attempt to check the
devastation which often ensues. Won Löher mentions that he rode
through several charred and blackened districts, where it was quite
evident that the progress of the fire had only been arrested by there
being no more trees or shrubs to burn; he also says that the
inhabitants of different villages often set fire to each other's trees
or shrubs in order to avenge a quarrel. Fine trees meet with
the same fate simply for the pleasure of seeing them burn, and it
is stated that this is an amusement frequently indulged in by
ignorant and unreflecting shepherds, in order to while away their
time spent on the mountains.
The forests of dark pines which formerly clothed the mountain
sides have also fallen victims to the foolish and reckless manner in
which the tar burners and resin distillers carry on their business.
Won Löher says, “Operations are commenced by stripping off the
bark on one side, the finest trees being always selected, as high as
the man can reach, and the resin taken. Fire is then applied to
the base of the trunk, and a few hours suffice to lay it low. The
branches are then lopped off, and with portions of the trunk, are
heaped into a roughly constructed oven formed of quarried stone.
Fire is then applied to the wood, and the resin pours forth into a
little channel cut to receive it. The first fruits of this process
are called kolophonium, and the second, resin, whilst the last
result forms a kind of tar. Half the resin is, of course, wasted in
this rough process, and when the devastators have taken of the
best the hill-sides afford, they climb down to another green and
luxuriant spot, there to recommence their work of destruction.”
Gaudry says that if a peasant wishes to sow some grain up in the
mountains, he simply burns down the trees which stand on the
spot, and their ashes serve to enrich the soil for a few years, during
which it is cultivated, and when this piece of land is worked out,
the same process is repeated in another place, and so on.

. o re- To restore the forests to anything like their former con#..." dition will be the work of many years, and may at first involve

a heavy expenditure; in the end, however, it cannot but prove
remunerative, not only as regards the actual value of the timber
itself for manufacturing purposes, but also on account of the influ-
ence which the existence of forests would have upon the climate.
This last subject has been considered in Chapter VI.
To effect the restoration of the timber supplies of the island,
not only will whole districts have to be replanted, but it is suggested
that all the existing woods and forests should be put under the im-
mediate protection of the government, and their culture and general
management entrusted to efficient persons; every act of wanton
destruction should be punished, boundary lines round the villages
should be fixed, and restrictions placed upon the present trade in
resin. Opinions regarding the best trees to plant in the island have
been freely offered since our occupation of Cyprus commenced. In
the selection of these trees, great care will be required, for various

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »